A couple of weeks ago The Association of America Publishers proclaimed that over the course of 2015 e-book sales have decreased by 12.7%. Nielsen Bookscan have verified that these figures are mostly correct at the Book Expo America conference in Chicago.
Unit sales of e-books published by traditional publishers fell 13% in 2015 compared to 2014, said Kempton Mooney of Nielsen during a Thursday panel aimed at examining different publishing markets.
Units fell to 204 million from 234 million in 2014. The high point of e-book sales was 2013 when units totaled 242 million units. While e-book sales fell in the year, print units rose 2.8%, to 653 million. As a result, e-books’s market share of units dipped to 24% in 2015, down from 27% in 2014. Mooney observed that some of the gain in print sales was due to the extraordinary popularity of adult coloring books last year. The e-book sales figures came from about 400 traditional publishers, Mooney said.
Mooney also reported that the Big 5 publishers’ share of e-book sales fell to 34% in 2015, down from 38% in 2014. In 2012, the Big 5 held a 46% of e-book unit sales. The loss of share of the Big 5 was made up by self-publishers and small publishers. Self-publishers’ share of the e-book market rose to 12% last year from 8% in 2014, while small presses accounted for 30% of e-book unit sales in 2015, up from 26% in 2014.
It looks like major publishers have seen the largest decrease in e-book sales in 2015. This can be attributed to a myriad of factors such as higher unit cost and the lack of a true bestseller such as 50 Shades of Grey.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.